“With style and verve Marie Macpherson whirls us into the world of sixteenth-century Scotland: its sights and smells, sexual attraction, childbirth and death, and of course the ever looming threat of religious strife. Few are the known facts of John Knox’s first thirty and more years, but this vivid creation of a fictional life for him not only entertains but raises many questions in the reader’s mind about the character and motives of a dominating figure in Scottish history.”
Dr Rosalind K Marshall, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, research associate of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, to which she has contributed more than fifty articles, and author of biographies of Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise, John Knox, Elizabeth I and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
‘Historical novels which spin a good yarn and keep to the known historical facts are a pleasing way of learning history. Marie Macpherson’s well-researched novel captures the period which led up to the Reformation in Scotland, in which decay and despotism led eventually to a new regime.
She leaves the reader much better informed about the rivalries between the Scots nobility, and the way in which they used the late medieval church as a power base to consolidate their hold on power. In addition, she skilfully escapes the constraints of the known facts to give her readers an intriguing fictional tale of the early life of John Knox, about which little is known other than that he was a notary and Catholic priest.
The violence and brutality of life in sixteenth century Scotland is well captured, along with the struggles among the vying dynasties to supplant a weak monarchy. The author excels in her ability to weave Scots words and expressions into the text, enriching it immeasurably. This vivid vocabulary is applied also to the scenes of carnal activity, underlining the brutality of the period. Her romances are earthy rather than ethereal, her nobles far short of heroic and the result is a book which portrays the main players in Scotland’s Reformation as flawed human beings rather than the goodies and baddies which partisan history has often made them.’
Rev Stewart Lamont
Author of The Swordbearer:
John Knox and the European Reformation
In this mini-documentary shot on location in Scotland, Marie Macpherson narrates the story of how she came to write her novel, The First Blast of the Trumpet based on the early , undocumented life of John Knox. She takes us on a trip around the historic locations mentioned in the novel – from St Mary’s in Haddington, East Lothian, to St Andrews Castle in Fife.